The Liberty Fire Company # 4 of Schuylkill Haven starts its history back in 1908. The organization originated at its exact location that it holds today — 223 West Columbia Street, Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania.
The Call of August 27, 1909
LIBERTY HOSE HOUSE
The Liberty Fire Company, will on Saturday afternoon and evening, throw open the doors of their new building on Columbia Street in the South Ward to the inspection of the public, and the citizens of all parts of town are cordially invited to view it. The building is thirty by forty feet in size, two stories in height and stands upon a lot 40 by 160 feet, the ground having been the gift of Mrs. W. L. Bryant. The structure is of concrete blocks, with galvanized iron cornices finished in imitation of concrete. The building stands on a
concrete foundation and the cellar is cemented.
There are but two rooms, an apparatus room on the first floor and a meeting room on the second floor. Both are wainscoted to a height of four feet and the balance of the side walls and the ceilings are finished in stamped steel and prettily painted. I. H. Becker was the general contractor and the concrete blocks and ornaments were furnished by Jere Huling and Son. The house is piped for gas and wired for electric light. There is a washstand in each room and the entire building is heated by steam. The steam plant was
installed by Ray Hoffman. Most of the digging, hauling, foundations, cementing, outside concrete work, filling, plumbing and electric light work was done by members of the company.
The Liberty boys are to be congratulated upon the success of their efforts to provide the South Ward with an up to date fire company. The company is equipped with a modern two wheeled hose carriage that carries a big reel of hose and all of the necessary accessories. Thanks to the kindness of the public and the contributions and strenuous work of the members, the apparatus and equipment is all paid for and a part of the cost of the building is paid, there remaining a debt of $1,500. This the company hopes to liquidate in a short time.
In addition to the fact that the building houses a firefighting and property saving organization, the public has another interest in the structure, owing to the fact that the meeting room has been leased to the school board and will be used during the coming term for school purposes. With this object in view, the board has installed forty eight handsome, new desks, a desk for the teacher, large blackboards and other school paraphernalia. With ample light, plenty of heat and good ventilation, this is one of the handsomest, most comfortable and most healthful school rooms in the town. Read More at Schuylkill Haven History
The station was built as a single two-story dwelling, the same as the main building today. On the first floor, there was a double swinging garage door in which the apparatus was kept.
In those days, a team of horses from the neighboring Faust’s Garage had to be brought to the firehouse in order for the fire engines to respond to the call.
Sketchy details from the past tell us that there was no room or money for their own horse team, so a kind member who operated a garage actually loaned the Liberty his team to transport the equipment when duty called.
Due to the time period, the records of the Liberty Fire Company # 4 cannot be found from 1908 to 1916.
In the year 1916, not many logs or records can be obtained except that the fire chief on record was a man named Charles Faust.
In 82 years of records, the Liberty Fire Company has had a total of 12 presidents and 13 Chiefs. A man by the name of Jacob Moyer ruled in the fire company as President from 1923 until 1951 — serving a total of 26 years. Jacob’s photo, illuminated with a spotlight, still hangs in the training room today.
At the present time, Keith Sweigert a native to the community, is serving as the Chief of the Liberty and has put a strong emphasis on the importance of training.
Under Keith’s leadership, the Liberty Fire Company is proud to say on average 160 man-hours of training is completed at the state level every month.
A report dating back to the year of 1918 stated,
“The Chief of the Schuylkill Haven Fire Department completed inspection of the 4 firehouses in town, and founded that the Liberty Fire Company #4 was to be deemed inoperable at structure fires, because the company only had one “I” nozzle”. There is no record on how this situation was resolved.
On a cold October day in 1921, the Liberty Fire Company accepted the delivery of a Hahn Chemical Engine, in which they paid $3,250.00 — their first motored fire apparatus!
In March 1929, they purchased their 2nd Hahn chemical Wagon for the low cost of $3,775.00. Many stories have been told about these 2 pieces of firefighting memorabilia, including how the chemicals had to be mixed and the consequences if they were not mixed correctly.
It was not until November of 1948, the station purchased their first modern fire apparatus, a 1948 Mack pumper. Although, the price was substantially higher at $15,585.00, the new Mack could not compare to the operability of the chemical wagons. This truck is still in operating condition today and is privately owned by the Schuylkill Historical Society in Shenandoah, PA.
Nine years later, the Liberty expanded their firefighting apparatus collection by purchasing another Mack pumper. The “57″ as it is known today, cost the company $18,992.00 and is still in operating condition. The “57″ is also owned by the Schuylkill Historical Society in Shenandoah, PA.
In 1975, the company took delivery of a Dodge/Car-Mar 2000 gallon Tanker-Pumper. This Tanker-Pumper served the borough and surrounding communities from 1975 to 1992. “Tanker 738” also won numerous state championships throughout its legacy at Station 4.
In 1991, the Liberty explored the idea of purchasing a new tanker to replace the rod tanker-pumper known as “Tanker 738”. Shortly thereafter, in 1992, the new tanker was purchased from 4 Guys Fire Apparatus, in Meyersdale, PA. The International/4Guys, tanker had a 2000-gallon tank, with a 5 man enclosed cab, and a 750 GPM pump. Tanker 738 (63-38) is still in service today and responds to nearly 100 calls per year.
The next purchase in 1993 was a 1980 CF Mack from a man named Larry Taylor in Wysox, PA. The truck was a retired engine from the City of New York and was the former Engine 50 in the Bronx.
The Mack boasted a 1000 GPM pump with 750-gallon tank, and was able to carry 2500 ft. of 5′ large diameter hose. Many individuals came to love this truck, because of its history. This 1980 CF Mack (63-16) is still the pride and joy of our fire company and serves as a second out attack engine and LDH supply truck.
This engine carries 1000 ft. of 5″ large diameter hose, 1000 ft. of 3″ hose, and is known today as “Engine 63-17″.
This Engine may be small compared to the mighty pumpers that are being built today, but it gets the job done when it is called upon. Engine 63-17 is a smaller engine that really packs a punch on the fire grounds and is used as our primary attack truck.
In early 2001, the Liberty Fire Company purchased a 1994 International Med-Tech Ambulance from the Schuylkill Haven Ambulance Association, and turned it into a squad, known as “Squad 739”. This Squad carried a 3-bottle cascade system, and was used as a RIT (Rapid Intervention Team) transport vehicle, command post, rehab unit and dive truck. This vehicle served the community from 2001 until the Spring of 2015.
In the Spring of 2015, the Liberty Fire Company decided to purchase a 1992 Pierce Arrow Pumper from its neighboring town of Cressona. The Pierce replaced the former Squad 739 as its condition was deteriorating rapidly. The Pierce Arrow is now today’s 63-69 or Squad 69.